Today I have a super simple recipe for roasted parsnips with oil, herbs and salt. This technique of cooking parsnips is as easy as can be, plus they’re a naturally gluten-free and paleo side dish.
This post was originally shared on March 12, 2015. I have updated the photos and some of the text today.
What Are Parsnips?
Parsnips are a root vegetable similar to carrots, from the Apiaceae family. In appearance, they roughly resemble a white carrot with a fat top and pointy tip. They are very sweet tasting and have a unique floral and nutty flavor with notes of hazelnut, pear, vanilla, and caramel.
They pair well with chicken and pork. Roasting is a terrific way to prepare them because it brings out their natural sweetness and caramelizes their sugars. They can also be mashed or added to soups and stews.
Furthermore, they make a great storing crop because they have low water content, so they are great all winter long. Please make sure to read more about this versatile root veggie and get tons of parsnip recipes ideas in my Guide To Parsnips.
What Are Spring Dug Parsnips?
I always thought of parsnips as being a fall vegetable. I was sort of right since that’s when they stop growing. But I was also wrong too. Because while you can harvest them in the fall, and find them in the store all through the cold season, they are even better in the spring.
When I was working on this Farm to School Cookbook project years ago, Abby (the director of the project and locavore guru) told me that parsnips are worth seeking out in the spring. They are even called “Spring-dug.”
This means that they are technically ready/edible in the fall, but instead of overwintering them in storage, they stay in the ground and are dug in the spring. What happens is that spending the winter in the cold soil makes their starches convert to sugars making them perfectly candy-like come spring.
Step By Step Instructions To Make Roasted Parsnips
Preheat The Oven: Parsnips are very high in natural sugar, so they can burn more easily than roasted carrots, therefore you want to set your oven to 400 degrees. That’s slightly cooler than what you would normally use for most other roasted veggies.
Peel Them: The first time I tried roasting parsnips was when I was in my first year of culinary school. I neglected to peel them before I roasted them, and I learned the hard way and unfortunately for the folks dining that day, I learned that you have to peel them before you cut them. The skin is actually a little pithy and a little bitter.
Use Oblique Cut: When cutting them for roasting I use an oblique cut. This helps to make the pieces of the parsnip relatively uniform, even if they have a very wide top and skinny bottom. It also ensures lots of surface area for browning- which means extra sweet flavor. You can read more about how to do an oblique cut in the Ultimate Guide To Parsnips (plus much more about them!)
Toss With Oil and Seasoning: To ensure a good sear on the outside of the parsnips, you’ll want to toss the chunks with olive oil. About a tablespoon is good. Toss in some salt, and then I also like to add in some dry spices or herbs. Today I used Greek Seasoning, but I have also used Italian Seasoning and Herbs De Provence instead.
Roast Them: Spread parsnips out on a baking sheet in a single layer, and then simply transfer them to the hot oven. You’ll want to stir them once or twice as they roast since the bottoms will brown first.
How To Know When They Are Done: Depending on the size of your chunks, they will take anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes to roast. You’ll know that they are ready when you can easily slide a fork into them, and there is little resistance.
Make Ahead Tips
You can cut the parsnips up to four days ahead. Just store them in a resealable glass container in the fridge to keep them cold and dry. When you’re ready to make them, toss them with the oil and seasonings just before roasting them.
If you have leftovers they can be reheated in the microwave until they’re steaming hot. Or you can heat them in the oven. To do so place them in a glass baking dish and cover them with foil. Bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until they’re steaming hot.
- If you’re not familiar with them, I like to say that parsnips look like white carrots. Most of them are relatively wide at the top and skinny/pointy at the bottom. This shape is more tapered than that of a carrot. This is totally normal.
- You can find them year round, but they are best from fall through the spring. As with all root vegetables, parsnips are a storing crop, so they can be held in a root cellar or the refrigerator for several months.
- Look for those that are not growing fine root hairs (that means they are over the hill and will not be as sweet.) You also want to make sure they are free from punky or slimy spots. This means they were stored with too much moisture and are rotting. If they are kept dry this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Try to pick parsnips that are around 1-inch thick or so at the top and all of about equal size.
What Recipes Pair Well With Parsnips?
- It is warmer and sunny right now here, so I am probably going to be grilling in the next couple days. This Grilled Pork Tenderloin with garlic and lemon zest would be super yummy with the naturally sweet parsnips.
- In colder months this Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Chutney is great with the flavor of parsnips.
- You could also serve this side dish with Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders recipe that everyone loves. Your oven will already be set at 400 degrees so that would be super easy!
- If you like fish, this Pan Fried Fish would be nice main course with these. I’d recommend the caper sauce variation with them.
- You can’t go wrong with Garlic Herb Chicken. It is one of my all-time favorite ways to grill chicken. Pair it with a salad with some Apple Cider Vinaigrette and you’ve got a complete meal!
What Else To Make With Parsnips
Here are some more recipe ideas for using fresh parsnips.
Thank you for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back to leave a star rating and review! Please join me on instagram too!
Here is a simple recipe for roasted parsnips. Simply toss them with oil, herbs and salt and let the oven roast them into a perfect sweet and savory side dish.
- 2 pounds parsnips
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon herbs de province, Italian seasoning or other dried herb mix
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel parsnips and cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with oil, herbs and salt in a large bowl. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
- Roast, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are tender in the center and browned in spots on the outside, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a platter or plates and garnish with parsley.
- To tell if the parsnips are done, slide a fork into one or two. It should go in with little to no resistance.
- You can cut the parsnips up to four days ahead. Just store them in a resealable glass container in the fridge to keep them cold and dry. When you’re ready to make them, toss them with the oil and seasonings just before roasting them.
- If you have leftover parsnips they can be reheated in the microwave until they’re steaming hot. Or you can heat them in the oven. To do so place them in a glass baking dish and cover them with foil. Bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until they’re steaming hot.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 110
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 550 mg
- Fat: 4 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 20 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 1.5 g